I am a Vermonter who believes the greatest economic, educational, environmental and social good is achieved through common sense leadership.
I am committed to upholding the Vermont Constitution and the principles of free market enterprise, transparent governance, fair and consistent tax policies, personal liberty and responsibility, and to building a robust and affordable economy for all Vermonters.
A report to the Legislative Joint Fiscal Office states that Vermont spends $164,000,000 more than is needed for education and explains how that might be fixed. Last session, Act 46 passed in an effort to encourage school districts to consolidate to save money as well as to put growth caps on school budgets in the state. The year, Act 46 was amended to soften the growth caps that could result in higher property taxes for Vermonters. Our student populations are continuing to decline adding to the dilemma. For example in 2005-2006, the total Vermont school enrollment was 93,925 students. Last year, the total school enrollment in K through 12 was 84,446 students, a decrease of 10%. In some state's districts, the percentage of decrease is far greater.
Many of the problems plaguing Vermont would be helped by a strong economy. State revenue would increase so the inevitable search for new taxes and fees would end. At this point the Fee Bill is rumored to increase overall fees by $25,000,000 if passed as is. A special tax for independent physicians and dentists will send more of them out of state to set up their practices. Vermont Republican caucus, first and foremost, will make sure that any legislation will pass the “do no harm” test before supporting it.
As the Vermont Health Connect continues to frustrate many Vermonters we should evaluate the pros and cons of moving to the Federal Health Exchange. Recommit to the Blueprint of Health, develop policies that will support business, recruit new physicians and control the cost shifts.
Not raising fees, forcing agencies to work within their means and reining in state spending is our top priority for this session.
On the Budget Adjustment Act Tom Pelham wrote to Don Turner, our Minority Leader in the House, in Nov. 2015, “Hopefully you can bring together a “centrist coalition” so that legislation leaving the House for the Senate …… gets Vermont back on a sensible, less risky fiscal track.” Then Corey Parent, Legislator from Franklin County, wrote in his Weekly Report on 2/3/2016, “General Fund spending growth to 5%, almost double that of growth in our underlying economy. It pushes $10 million into next years’ budget; a practice that puts Vermont in a true budget deficit and it will require harder decisions to be made in next budget going forward and for those reasons I voted no. I can no longer count the number of conversations that I have had with you about the importance of returning Vermont to a sustainable fiscal path, each year we delay we make it that much harder to fix a return to that path, each year we delay we drive taxes and fees higher, and each year we delay we make Vermont that much more unaffordable for you and I to live in and do business here.”